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Luke Fraser | 19 February 2023

South Africa is facing a critical shortage of skilled artisans.

According to Jendamark Automation, which builds and exports electric automotive component parts, artisans are in high demand globally, with good career prospects for those who finish their vocational training programmes.

However, Jendamark’s Marinus van Rooyen said that the tech company noticed a worrying decline in the number of applications for artisan positions – most notably for toolmakers.

“We are concerned about this trend and have found that this challenge is not unique to Jendamark, as our local and national manufacturing suppliers are experiencing the same frustration,” said Van Rooyen.

He added that South Africa’s manufacturing sector could only grow if there is a steady supply of engineers, artisans and technicians who can build and fix things.


Despite the challenging situation, numerous programs are in place to increase the number of skilled artisans across the country.

Last November, Blade Nzimande, Minister of higher education, science and innovation, said that South Africa needed at least 60% of those leaving school to become artisans to meet the country’s demand for the skills.

The National Development Plan aims to add 30,000 artisans per annum by 2030; however, current estimates predict only 20,000 per year, resulting in a shortage of “priority skills.”

Van Rooyen said that Jendamark contributed to skills development by running its own in-house apprenticeship programme for mechanical fitters, electricians and toolmakers. The program is four years long and is overseen by MERSETA and endorsed by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

“For trade-tested artisans, the world is their oyster. There is a shortage of technical skills globally, and we have found that many South Africans are being lured overseas by international recruiters,” Van Rooyen said.

Additionally, as reported by the Mail and Guardian, American Tech conglomerate Cisco said that it will upskill 10 million people in the next 10 years in the digital and cybersecurity space – with three million being trained in Africa.

“The youth of today will be the green engineers of tomorrow. We need engineers with new skill sets to build solar panels and wind turbines, sustainability offices and become new energy analysts,” Reem Asaad, vice president at Cisco EMEA, said.

In Africa, Cisco first launched the digital acceleration programme – a collaboration with government leaders to build sustainable, inclusive and innovative technology solutions – in South Africa due to the greatest short-term assurance for growth and opportunity.

Cisco said that it is not only dedicated to training and education but also mentoring and consulting to help small businesses succeed.

“The challenge in South Africa is how to take an already young, agile, well-educated and ambitious population and give them a pathway to success,” Cisco’s global innovation officer Guy Diedrich said.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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